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 On this day in history

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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Tue 22 Mar 2016, 09:41

Shocking news from Brussels this morning, Paul.

I hope you and your family are all right.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Tue 22 Mar 2016, 20:44

Triceratops wrote:
Shocking news from Brussels this morning, Paul.

I hope you and your family are all right.


Triceratops, thanks for asking.
It was only a matter of time before it would happen. After Madrid, London, Paris and that are only the European cities...In the arabic and muslim cities it is much more atrocious...all this zealot djihadism was already growing long before 9/11 feeded by a strong salafism...
I saw the last months some three documentaries about what lived in the muslim communities of France, Germany and Belgium...On a French history forum a member directed us to arabic sites from France where the discussions are also printed in French...if you read what a French muslim all read on these fora you really would start to be afraid...
No it will be a long way till this extreme muslim community will be integrated in the Western way of life...if it will ever be possible...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Wed 23 Mar 2016, 08:46



Some historical landmarks are remarkable in how they have played a crucial role in something that would so fundamentally affect the future for all of us on the planet, and yet go relatively unmarked, un-feted, and even forgotten.

Here's one for example - which on a certain March 23rd in the not too dim and distant past saw the introduction of something which would change urban life for ever. Can you guess what happened here?
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Wed 23 Mar 2016, 10:41

I'm guessing it's where the first modern public lift/elevater was installed, presumably by Mr Otis, somewhere in New York.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Wed 23 Mar 2016, 11:03

Quite right - in 1857 in the then newly built Eder V. Haughwout's Fashionable Emporium.

Otis was having a hard time selling his "Excelsior" safety elevator, despite its obvious (to him) practical application. Elevators had been around for a while of course, but up to Otis's innovations they tended to have rather fatal consequences when they went wrong and were understandably regarded as things to be very wary of indeed. However Haughwout's purchase of this new elevator which braked automatically if its supports should fail was just the breakthrough he needed, though he must have bitten his tongue somewhat when Haughwout explained why he in particular was investing in the new contraption for his building on Broadway. Glass ornaments were his stock in trade and he was only too aware of the potential problems a six storey department store presented regarding moving stock up and down and out the door. The elevator was for the glass's sake, not the people's.

Within a month of this novelty being installed and discussed Otis was getting fresh orders to beat the band, enough to ensure him great popularity and wealth thereafter. And of course once the old building height limitations imposed by a reliance on stairs went out the window ...
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Fri 25 Mar 2016, 12:55

I'm a day late but BT search was saying yesterday was the anniversary of Harry Houdini's birth (1874 being the year).
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 04 Apr 2016, 15:50

4 April 1859, Bryant's Minstrels give the first public performance of the song Dixie in New York.
The song would become the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy during the Civil War;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 04 Apr 2016, 18:01



And with the words:



Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 04 Apr 2016, 18:14

I've never had occasion to think about this before, but I suppose the name 'Dixie Land', to mean the the South-Eastern states of the USA, derives from Jeremiah Dixon, the surveyor with Charles Mason, of the Mason-Dixon Line. Or is there perhaps another origin for the 'Dixie' name?
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 04 Apr 2016, 19:15

According to the all-knowing wiki: three explanations among them that one of yours Meles meles...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixie

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 07 Apr 2016, 10:48

The Google log-in page says it's sitar-player (well very good sitar-player) Ravi Shankar's 96th birthday.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 14 Apr 2016, 09:57

April 14th 1561 - The Federation attack the Empire's Death Star and Darth Vader's fleet over Nuremburg in Germany in the second largest ever UFO sighting in history. Or at least that's how some people like to interpret it.

The "celestial phenomenon", witnessed by the entire city it is said (Germans are notoriously early risers), lasted about an hour.



"In the morning of April 14, 1561, at daybreak, between 4 and 5 a.m., a dreadful apparition occurred on the sun, and then this was seen in Nuremberg in the city, before the gates and in the country – by many men and women. At first there appeared in the middle of the sun two blood-red semi-circular arcs, just like the moon in its last quarter. And in the sun, above and below and on both sides, the color was blood, there stood a round ball of partly dull, partly black ferrous color. Likewise there stood on both sides and as a torus about the sun such blood-red ones and other balls in large number, about three in a line and four in a square, also some alone. In between these globes there were visible a few blood-red crosses, between which there were blood-red strips, becoming thicker to the rear and in the front malleable like the rods of reed-grass, which were intermingled, among them two big rods, one on the right, the other to the left, and within the small and big rods there were three, also four and more globes. These all started to fight among themselves, so that the globes, which were first in the sun, flew out to the ones standing on both sides, thereafter, the globes standing outside the sun, in the small and large rods, flew into the sun. Besides the globes flew back and forth among themselves and fought vehemently with each other for over an hour. And when the conflict in and again out of the sun was most intense, they became fatigued to such an extent that they all, as said above, fell from the sun down upon the earth ‘as if they all burned’ and they then wasted away on the earth with immense smoke. After all this there was something like a black spear, very long and thick, sighted; the shaft pointed to the east, the point pointed west. Whatever such signs mean, God alone knows. Although we have seen, shortly one after another, many kinds of signs on the heaven, which are sent to us by the almighty God, to bring us to repentance, we still are, unfortunately, so ungrateful that we despise such high signs and miracles of God. Or we speak of them with ridicule and discard them to the wind, in order that God may send us a frightening punishment on account of our ungratefulness. After all, the God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that He may avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may temporarily here and perpetually there, live as his children. For it, may God grant us his help, Amen. By Hanns Glaser, letter-painter of Nurnberg."

The artist (and self-confessed signwriter - see above) Hanns Glaser produced this woodcut at the time and it was published as a broadsheet, from which the above account has also been extracted. Note the huge Star Destroyer prominently featured in the lower portion of the frame.



The battle was obviously inconclusive. Five years later the fleets were at it again, this time over Basel in Switzerland and in even greater numbers and ferocity. The Swiss battle lasted all of two days and finished - it seems - in the complete mutual destruction of all sides. Well, at least none of the ships have ever come back in so great a formation again, and the few extraterrestrial survivors of these epic confrontations seemingly content themselves these days with the odd kidnapping and probing backwoods Americans up the arse.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Fri 15 Apr 2016, 14:27

15 April 1755, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary is first published;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Fri 29 Apr 2016, 23:57

29 April: a bad day for NZers:  1864: Gate Pa shelled by imperial troops, but the Maori inside resisted, forcing a retreat by the English soldiers who left behind more than 100 dead; the Maori people evacuated the pa during the night.

1881:  Worst civilian accident in NZ's history when the Tararua sank with the loss of 131 of the 151 passengers and crew.

1941:  Last NZ troops leave Greece in a retreat to Crete, leaving 261 dead, 387 wounded and 1856 taken prisoner.  Crete was a disaster too.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sun 01 May 2016, 16:27

Some things that were part of our lives not so very many years ago can feel as if they happened in another world, or at least in the distant past and May Day is one of them.

May Day was a big event in Glasgow and the centrepiece was a march from George Square to Queen's Park for speeches. That was (still is) my local park so I was always taken along to watch. Pipe bands, trade union banners, decorated floats drawn by my favourite things there, Clydesdales with their manes and tails elaborately pleated and decorated, and the great and the good of the Labour Party, a few Communists, some vocal anarchists and guests.

This picture is from 1948 and shows the crowds watching in Victoria Rd.




This one is from 1960 with Paul Robeson speaking from the bandstand where during the summer there were variety shows.




Here's one of the floats which I surmise is from the late 50's or early 60's.



I guess this one is from the mid 60's.




It all seems a long, long time ago. Yes, there is still something to mark the day but it's a shadow of its former self and just doesn't give the impression of a militant proletariat on the march for justice, just look at this poster. Doesn't really evoke Red Clydeside does it? (Although that's all a bit of a myth anyway and it is appropriate that it features women who really were often the driving force around here.)


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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 02 May 2016, 08:51

Nice to see you back, Caro. Hope this means you're well on the mend, and my best wishes to you in that regard.

This day, May 2nd, in the year 1611, was one which saw the arrival in the world of something that has gladdened the hearts of many a linguaphile afterwards, even us crusty old misanthropic nihilists who still know a good turn of phrase when we hear one ...



Robert Barker's first printed edition of the KJV
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sat 07 May 2016, 04:33

Thanks to everyone for their welcome.  I am able to type a bit, but not for very long.  Ditto writing.  Ditto walking with a quad stick, but usually I sit in a wheelchair, which I can move around, but not up the passage which I need to walk to to get to the bed and the toilet.  But generally I feel fine, sometimes a little sore but not usually, though that might be courtesy of the Panadol I take.  (Plus numerous other pills, though this week the NZ Listener had an article which said when you take more than 10 different pills a day there is a 100% chance they will have some kind of bad side effect, though I think minor things like dry mouth count.)

But I have learnt from my time in hospital that there are a lot worse things than strokes you can suffer from.  And I have also learnt that whiole I thought I wasn't fussy about food, it's true that there is hardly any type of ordinary food that I won't eat but I am particular about the quality.  My husband is a good cook so I find hospital foods a bit tasteless and generally overcooked.  But I suppose there are lots of worse things in life.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sat 07 May 2016, 10:48

Caro - I said hurrah that you're back over on the Daily Rave thread just after you sent your first message above - do hope you saw that.

However, just in case you didn't, may I say here again how pleased we all are that you have returned to Res Hiss and are well enough to type a bit. Do hope you will soon be able to post regularly - as in the good ole days! Do take it steady, though, and keep taking the pills, even if you start to rattle. Side effects often wear off quite quickly, I believe.

Better think of a proper On This Day thing to post now...


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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sat 07 May 2016, 11:51

May 1st - May 19th 1536 were the last days on earth of the woman who, in the words of Thomas Wyatt, "did set our country in a roar": Anne Boleyn (Wyatt wisely changed the wording in the second draft of his poem to make the woman's identity more of a puzzle, but that's what he originally wrote).

Anne must have realised something was seriously amiss when, on May 1st, Henry abruptly left the May Day jousts. Anne was never to see her husband again and she was arrested the next day. By today, May 7th - a Sunday in 1536 - she had been in the Tower just under a week.

On May 7th, Rowland Lee, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, and his associates in the Council of the Marches on the Welsh border, acknowledged receipt of letters from the Privy Council and expressed their complete shock: "As the news in this letter is very doleful to this Council and all the liege people of the realm, God forbid it should be true."

Other developments on May 7th indicate that whatever might happen at any forthcoming trial, the outcome of the "doleful" affair was expected to be a foregone conclusion. On this day in 1536, orders were sent in the King's name to the sheriffs of every county in England, informing them that "since the dissolution of the late Parliament, matters of high importance have chanced, which render it necessary to discuss the establishment of the succession in a parliament assembled for that purpose." The sheriffs were ordered by the King to "declare to the people that the calling of a parliament is so necessary both for treating of matters so necessary for their weal and the surety of our person, that they will have cause to think their charge and time, which will be very little and short, well spent."

In fact Parliament had been summoned on April 27th, before the Queen's arrest - but the May 7th official announcement, once received in the various shires, must have had all EngLnd aware that something terrible was happening - or about to happen - in London.

Evidence tomorrow, May 8th, will show that already the vultures were gathering - the fall of the Boleyns meant pickings for all - and we have a letter from Lord Lisle to Cromwell asking for a share.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sun 08 May 2016, 08:13

Monday May 8th 1536

The news of the arrest of the queen had by now also reached France - or rather that bit of France that still belonged to us...

On this day nearly five hundred years ago, the king's cousin and  Lord Deputy of the Pale of Calais, Arthur Plantagenet, Lord Lisle, learning of events across the Channel and realising that all involved would be/were already condemned, speculated on what offices, lands and goods would be confiscated. This Arthur Plantagenet, anxious not to lose out, hastily penned the following to Master Secretary Cromwell:

Right honourable Sir,

After my hearty commendations, forasmuch as always my full trust and confidence hath been in you...And seeing there are many things now in the King's gracious disposition and hands, by reason of the most mischievous, heinous and most abominable treasons against his most gracious and royal crown and person committed, I wholly trust that his Grace, being good lord unto me, will vouchsafe to employ some part of those same upon me; which I do well know may so much the rather be obtained by your good mediation and furtherance...


Lord Lisle sent the letter via his attorney, one John Husse, and enclosed another letter for the King himself. Husse was soon able, four days later, to report to his master that Cromwell had read the letter and had indicated that he was one "who hath promised to be your very friend". Husse, however, was not allowed to give the second letter to Henry - no audience with the King was granted - and was obliged to hand over this second missive to the keeping of Sir John Russell. Russell promised to continue consultations with Cromwell and so, Husse reported, "between them both, if they keep promise, I trust something will rise on your Lordship's behalf. But there is no time to make hot suit till time the matters now in hand be overblown."

Hot suit. What a lovely expression. Lord Lisle was just one of many of the eager looming* of vultures now gathering to make such heated suit. Various people, including the husband of a relative of Francis Weston, also John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, even the Duke of Richmond were, within days of the arrests, wheeling and dealing with Master Secretary over the possible pickings to be had.


PS* I had to look up the collective noun for vultures: there are several, but "a looming of vultures" seemed most appropriate. "Wake", "meal" and "vortex" are also apposite, but I plumped for looming.

a colony of vultures
a wake of vultures
a nest of vultures
a meal of vultures
a vortex of vultures


Last edited by Temperance on Sun 08 May 2016, 08:39; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : a rogue comma.)
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 09 May 2016, 12:47

9 May 1864, the Battle of Heligoland during the Second Schleswig War, one of the last (the last?) battles involving wooden hulled warships.

The Danish frigate Jylland, which took part in the battle, is preserved in dry dock in the port of Ebeltoft;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 09 May 2016, 18:54

Nice ship, Triceratops, nice ship indeed. What an elegance...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Tue 10 May 2016, 13:34

Thank you Trike and Paul,

This ship was part of the Danish squadron which fought a German-Austrian navy into seeking shelter at the - then British - island of Heligoland.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 16 May 2016, 07:23

Meant to post this yesterday, but I forgot.

May 15th, 1567.

Mary, Queen of Scots, marries James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, in the Great Hall at Holyrood.

Big mistake.

It was just over three months since the queen's second husband, Lord Darnley, had died and Mary was possibly already pregnant by the man many considered to have been his murderer.

Lines from Ovid were posted upon the gates of the Palace - Mense malos maio nubere vulgus ait - or, as the people were murmuring - Wantons marry in the month of May - and placards showing Mary as a mermaid (a symbol for a prostitute)  and Bothwell as a hare were posted all over Edinburgh.


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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 19 May 2016, 13:23

May 19th, I thought Temp would have posted something already.

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 19 May 2016, 14:31

Someone sends red roses every year to the Tower of London. They are put on the supposed site of her grave in the Chapel Royal of Saint Peter ad Vincula.

The rumour is it's the Percy family who are responsible - a little gesture on behalf of Harry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland. Nice idea, but perhaps it's just a clever ploy by the Tower authorities to impress the American tourists. Hope it is the Percy lot's doing: love and red roses after nearly five hundred years - that's good going and worthy of Anne.





19th May was actually a Friday in 1536 - wonder what Jane Seymour was up to that afternoon? Trying on her wedding dress, no doubt, ready for 30th May.


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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 19 May 2016, 15:20

A good deal earlier, the book was printed around 1490 and shows episodes from the life of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, b 1382:

The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

post it for general interest. left click to turn page.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Fri 20 May 2016, 00:08

What an enchanting experience; for that I thank you Trike. Every page a feast. So much within, I was taken by the detail of the ships in particular - but much else in the texts and pictures was as enthralling.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Fri 20 May 2016, 16:26

Glad you liked it Priscilla. Actually found it by accident while searching for other stuff, found it fascinating.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sat 21 May 2016, 15:47

1927 Charles Lindberg crosses the Atlantic in an aircraft as the first human being.
As the journey lasted for some 33 hours, and my sources aren't too clear, I don't know whether this date was when he started or when he landed.


My regrets for not having acknowledged MM's rightful corrections beneath, let the erroneous ways of my pc be my excuse.

A new modem has arrived and shall be installed, so my hopes are high.


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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sat 21 May 2016, 16:49

Lindberg's achievement was just the first solo flight ... the British aviators, John Alcock and Arthur Brown, had already made the first non-stop transatlantic flight (between St Johns, Newfoundland and Galway, Ireland) in June 1919, in an old RAF Vickers Vimy bomber. But, unlike Lindberg they were not self-agrandising Americans, and so they tend to get forgotten from all the 'halls of fame' guff.

Also a month after Alcock and Brown's achievement, a British airship made the first double crossing of the Atlantic, by carrying 31 people (one a stowaway) and a cat across to the US ....  and then 29 people, plus two additional flight engineers, a different independent American observer, but the same cat, straight back to Britain, having stopped in the US just to refuel, and offload the stowaway (an American newspaper reporter).
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sun 22 May 2016, 13:55

May 22nd 1904 was an auspicious day in aviation history. Nothing as spectacular as Lindbergh's or Alcock and Brown's achievements occurred on that day, yet almost all subsequent aviation technology and pioneering achievement would have taken a radically different trajectory indeed had it not been for what transpired on that early summer day 112 years ago in Ohio, USA.

A 46 year old patent attorney, Henry Aubrey (Harry) Toulmin, on this day filed a patent on behalf of Wilbur and Orville Wright which would eventually succeed, the brothers having several times failed to successfully file a patent themselves for what they imaginatively termed on each occasion "a Flying Machine".

The Wrights failed because each time they had attempted to make their contraption legal they could never convince the patent office of the practicality of their design. An understandably sceptical official, faced with the prospect of having to explain himself in subsequent law suits relating to the death and injury of people mad enough to act on the patented design he had approved, decided it safest simply to reject the crackpot brothers' applications out of hand.

In desperation the Wrights turned to Toulmin, some engineering friends having recommended him as that unusual breed - an attorney who actually understood practical stuff. Toulmin obliged, having inspected the brothers' workshop, the wrecks they had accumulated, the forensic reports they had compiled, the blueprints they had drawn up, and the rudimentary control gears they had built in response to these setbacks.

His recommendation was simple. Instead of attempting to patent the entire plane in one go, start with the most crucial patent of all - the controls. In their experimentation the Wrights had concluded that steering a heavier-than-air machine-propelled craft involved roll control through "wing warping" in addition to yaw control with a rudder, and crucially they knew also that such warping could also be achieved through devices which later would become standard aircraft wing features - ailerons. By placing the emphasis on the mechanism designed to achieve this Toulmin could petition rather more convincingly for the patent approval, submitted in Springfield Ohio on this day in 1904.

Following this patent came several in quick succession from Toulmin on behalf of the Wright brothers, and so thorough and successful was he in establishing these patents that the brothers could afterwards engage in what amounted to a "patent war" with competitors such as Glenn Curtis and be assured of success in each battle. It was impossible to control an aircraft without using mechanisms which were based on theirs, and for many years mechanisms which would have to be almost identical.

In recent times some aviation historians have attempted to suggest that this tight legal grip on the concept of mechanical control actually delayed the development of aircraft in its early stages in the USA. However they are in a minority. The alternative - that no patent would have been granted at all while people still attempted to register what were considered weird, dangerous and often lunatic designs for several more years - was a far more credible outcome which itself might have stalled aircraft development for even more years to come, had it not been of course for Toulmin's canny (and aeronautically savvy) innovation. Such was his technical understanding of exactly what the Wrights had achieved with their "wing warping" that Toulmin had convinced the brothers not just to file for patent of their control system in the US, but simultaneously in Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, and, as a bemused Wilbur wrote at the time, "probably Russia." For each successive patent he advised the same.

How many millions these patents proved to be worth is a matter of some debate - over the years they were challenged, supplanted, stolen and ignored in many different lands. However they were also largely honoured, and some are even valid today. Toulmin's fee for his significant and historical contribution to aviation history? - $15.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sun 22 May 2016, 14:25

That's interesting ... How long does a patent last for, twenty years isn't it usually? Which would take us well past WW1, by which time heavier than air flying machines were very well established although all still using the same basic principles of flight and control. Did the Wright brothers ever get any money directly from those patents?

Then again of course a patent only allows the owner to legally seek address from the person that's supposedly infringing the patent, .... and many patent infringements are later proved to be completely legal and valid, and so ultimately it's usually only the lawyers that benefit.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sun 22 May 2016, 16:40

I suspect that the application of patent in France, at least, was either unsuccessful or else unenforced. The Japanese navy and army, for example, began purchasing French aircraft built by the Farman brothers in the 1910s.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Sun 22 May 2016, 21:13

The history of the Wrights' patents reveals much that is sordid and cynical in American commercial history. In the decade leading up to the First World War, and after initially going head-to-head in various court cases attempting to establish precedent, both the Wrights and Glenn Curtis (who had started as an "agent" of Alexander Graham Bell but had realised the fortune he could keep for himself with personal patents), soon worked out that it was only a matter of time before someone else's innovation would pull the financial rug out from under their feet. Though they never publicly acknowledged a pact, by the outbreak of war it was impossible to build an aircraft in the US without paying either or both of these companies (and soon to be corporations) substantial royalties for almost every component of their product. War changed everything however. Besides those countries which had quickly allowed the Wrights' patents to be superceded by local variations anyway (such as France and the UK), hostilities and emergency legislation, such as in Germany and Austro-Hungary, effectively voided foreign patents' validity. In the USA itself all patents for the first time were "pooled", and though greatly reduced royalties were guaranteed for existing patents all future patents could in fact be commandeered by the government if deemed vital to the war effort.

This global relaxation of the old rules, and especially the introduction of state-driven seizure of intellectual property, meant that innovation companies, such as Wright and Curtis had become, now needed another strategy to continue in business. The obvious answer was to contract themselves to the same government that was seizing control of their patents, just as it was in the government's interest to compensate them generously for remaining around to innovate. And this is where everything became murky, and remains murky to this day.

Murky or not, the new relationship between innovation and government control did neither the Wright Brothers nor Glenn Curtis any harm. By 1929 their companies had merged to become Curtiss Wright, and as such they still hold a lucrative and commanding position in that shadow world of defense contracts and "aerospace" development - though these days their components for nuclear propulsion systems represent their key technical expertise and largest niche market.

They still hold the US patent for the aileron, renewed assiduously since Toulmin's first 1904 application was awarded them in 1906. One assumes this is not done "for old time's sake".
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 23 May 2016, 10:02

One of the most famous historical events to a Spaniard that never happened didn't happen on this day in 844CE (though up until recent times the event didn't happen on this day in 834CE). In fact two important things didn't happen on the day, and if ever an example of history producing myth begetting myth disguised as history is needed to illustrate the phenomenon, then one need look no further than this event - or non-event, depending on whether you side with myth or history in the account.

Christianity had come to dominate Spain largely due to the Visigoths who, as the Western Empire crumbled, and working from their initial settlement along the Dordogne river route in Southern France, suddenly exploded in the 5th century to expand in all directions from their capital in Toulouse which were not bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Having conquered "Aquitanicas" and its surrounding territories they had then pushed on south through the Iberian peninsula and other than the Suebi, who denied them the north-western tip for a critically long time, managed to overrun pretty much everything else. When the Franks began making inroads into their French territories the Visigoths poured more effort into their southern conquests, and soon they and their Arian faith had become pretty much the established top dogs in all of Iberia.

For the church in Rome this was a mixed blessing - it certainly helped reel in all the remaining non-Christian stragglers in the region, but Arianism was officially a heresy and from the moment the Visigoths took control of the region the Catholic church in Rome set about destabilising it using whatever was to hand. The principal method was to interfere with alliances, and by the 6th century the Visigoths, though powerful rulers on paper, found themselves diplomatically isolated, at perpetual war with the Franks to their north, officially enemies of every friend of Roman Catholic rule, and as the century progressed faced also with an ominous threat from the south that no one - not even the Catholic church - had ever seen coming.

Attempts were made to remedy matters. The Visigoths converted en-masse to Catholicism, and this for a while helped them at least hold their distance from the Franks and forestall a church-led alliance against them. However piece by piece their acquisitions were being pried from their control outside of Iberia, and internally the church was gaining more and more secular as well as religious influence over the kingdom's many subjects. Successive Councils of Toledo throughout the 7th century were convened and designed to weaken the Visigoth leadership's hold on the reins of power in the region, the church always suspicious that a regime which could so quickly convert to the Roman church's cause when it suited them might equally desert it later.

When the Southern threat finally materialised in the form of a raiding party of Moslem Umayyad North African troops in 711CE the kingdom was in no fit state to defend itself. We don't even know what happened or how it happened, so chaotic had the Visigoth kingdom become that no one was taking notes. The Moslem raiding party, realising what they had lucked in upon, suddenly became an invasion force and within just a year had overrun the entire Iberian peninsula. Only the stalwart Suebi territory, the same one that had withstood the Visigoths beforehand, refused to succumb to Umayyad rule. Initially overrun they quickly reorganised using guerilla tactics and carved back a portion of their old territory, enough to then embark on a painstakingly slow expansion of their borders with an equally slowly retreating Umayyad presence to their east and south.

Which brings us to the non-event.

By the early 9th century the Suebi had now become known as the Kingdom of Asturias (we would later know it as the Kingdom of León) and a Catholic bastion. Not that they could do much except bastion away during the interval, and not that they were much of a kingdom either. The guerilla tactics used to keep the Umayyads out had led to an uneasy alliance of war chiefs, each with their own mountain hold-outs, masquerading as a unified kingdom but only really cooperating militarily when rebuffing Umayyad incursions. They appointed kings and then largely ignored them. Internal revolution was followed by internal pogroms, followed by more rebellions and so on, sometimes so destablising the region that they came close to losing it all to their Moslem enemy. This period of Asturias's history was referred to as the time of the "Lazy Kings". However even this slipshod and inefficient system actually in the end produced territorial gain once one strong man emerged - Alfonso II - and by the early 9th century Asturias was actually cohesive enough and big enough to support an economy which - against the odds - began to thrive.

Enter the myth.

Alfonso, to be sure, did a lot to transform Asturias into something approaching what it would become as León later - a powerful kingdom with the ability to expand. But that wasn't enough for some people afterwards. Centuries later when the Spaniards celebrated their delivery from Moslem rule they cited Alfonso and the Asturians as the first step in the great "reconquest". And as a feature of this "reconquest" had been the (often violent) reimposition of Catholicism on the people in Iberia, it was unthinkable to later Middle Age minds that Alfonso hadn't done this in two important ways - having won a decisive battle and having had help from the man upstairs.

The first problem was solved by inventing a confrontation - the famous Battle of Clavijo in which Alfonso slew the Moslems in hordes and started the glorious reconquest of Catholic Spain. The second problem was fixed by recruiting one of the apostles, James the Greater, on the day. James, whose bones had coincidentally been found in Asturian territory only a short while before, appeared in person on the battlefield and took command of Alfonso's troops just as things were going bad for the Christians and rallied them into a great massacre of the enemy.

Except there was no James, and even more importantly, no battle. In reality Alfonso, after suffering some setbacks militarily before getting help from the Frankish Basques, simply then persevered with a painstaking and piecemeal border expansion which he could do because he had thrashed out a non-aggression treaty with Charlemagne. During this expansion he set about crucially capturing the ports of Castile and Galicia over the years with Frankish help, which in turn opened the possibility of expanding naval power in the region, a vital edge against the Arab state in Iberia which by now had fractured into separate power bases, none of which commanded an effective navy.


Giaquinto's 18th century depiction of the battle

The non-battle of Clavijo, which never took place on May 23rd 834CE or 844CE, had become a historical fixture by the 12th century, and the stuff of religious devotion by the later Middle Ages. James went on to become Spain's patron Saint. Alfonso went on to become a great liberator. History went on to be traduced. Myth went on to prosper. James's bones went on to become the shrine of Santiago de Compostela and still attract 100,000 or more myth-fans annually.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 23 May 2016, 15:54

Todays' word is, Defenestration;
23 May 1618, the event which marked the beginning of the Thirty Years War.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Tue 24 May 2016, 12:18

riceratops wrote:
Todays' word is, Defenestration;
23 May 1618, the event which marked the beginning of the Thirty Years War.

Ah, well [NOT Harwell!] 

This reminds me of my first meeting with Paul Ryckier many years ago on the old BBC Boards, when I asked for an explanation of this particular word, and Paul kindly sent me wandering in the wilderness of wiki.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Tue 24 May 2016, 14:05

24 May 1941, the Battle of the Denmark Strait.

Empire Day by Paul Wright. HMS Hood leads HMS Prince of Wales into action:

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Fri 27 May 2016, 14:19

27 May 1905: The Battle of Tsushima.

I have no idea what the name of this film is, what they are speaking about or what the song means;


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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Fri 27 May 2016, 14:23

And on the 27th May 1941, the Royal Navy gets revenge for the Hood by sinking Bismarck:

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Fri 27 May 2016, 21:10

Triceratops wrote:
27 May 1905: The Battle of Tsushima.

I have no idea what the name of this film is, what they are speaking about or what the song means;



 Triceratops,

where do you find all that stuff? Wink ...And Dirk Marinus is my witness, normaly it is me who find the difficult enigmas Wink ...
Did a lot of research to find the source of your youtube...but didn't succeeded...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Tsushima

 But at the end Wink ...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFfiNM2o-BM#t=96
And in de discussion from this youtube:
                     

"Laxamana Andhika1 jaar geleden
guys! i found it! it's a japanese TV series, title: Saka no ue no kumo. you can watch all of them here http://www.dramagalaxy.com/saka-no-ue-no-kumo you're welcome :DD"
http://www.dramagalaxy.tv/saka-no-ue-no-kumo
http://www.dramagalaxy.tv/saka-no-ue-no-kumo-episode-13/2-1

 Your competitor, Paul Wink
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 02 Jun 2016, 00:29

It's Lotte Reiniger's 117th birthday.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/06/01/lotte-reiniger-the-pioneering-film-maker-whose-shadow-puppets-in/  I remember seeing some of her shadow cartoons back in the day on the Beeb when my parents first had a TV.  Of course all TV was black and white then - in the UK anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 06 Jun 2016, 14:29

Given the association historically between June 6th and so many things bellicose, let's take a moment to reflect that this day in 1683 saw the first opening to the public of the doors of the world's first university museum - the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.



Elias Ashmole may have willed his collection to the University with instructions (and funds) to house it somewhere and hence forever have his moniker on the bequest, but despite what Wikipedia alleges almost the entire collection was something that he himself had inherited from the John Tradescants, father and son, who between them had amassed at that time the world's greatest collection of coins, books, engravings, archaeological specimens, geological specimens, zoological specimens, and indeed specimens of just about everything of interest to just about anybody doing anything at University, then and now. Not bad for a pair of gardeners!

Amongst the specimens was the world's very last dodo, stuffed, mounted and displayed as a timely reminder to all who cared to peruse it of man's reckless disdain for his fellow creatures and his catastrophic danger to their very existence as species when blinkered by greed, ignorance, and downright stupidity at times. As if to prove the latter point a later director of the museum in 1795 had the unfortunate specimen chucked on a bonfire (he reckoned it was too musty), though an alert and astute junior staff member managed to rescue a portion of it - the poor bird's charred head, neck and one claw - which today can be seen in the museum next to a replica of what it once looked like.

Like the unfortunate stuffed Dodo now on display there, the museum you visit today isn't actually the one that opened in the 1680s (the museum moved house in 1845), though the original building, now in the guise of the Science Museum on Broad Street, is indeed still there - should you wish to go through the door yourself some day as a quiet little celebration of the historic first wee swing on its hinges which heralded a new enlightened approach in allowing the great unwashed access to what up to then had been arcane and inaccessible knowledge, and from which so many of us in the deodorised category have so greatly benefited since June 6th 1683.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 16 Jun 2016, 09:44

Emergency "push-to-open" doors in halls, theatres, cinemas, hotels, and other public venues are such a simple and obvious device … but it took a tragedy to force their adoption in Britain.

On 16 June 1883, Victoria Hall, Sunderland  was visited by a Mr Fay who would entertain between 1500 and 2000 of the town's children with conjuring tricks, ventriloquism, puppetry and various illusions. One of his tricks involved large amounts of smoke, and several children were sick as a result. However, having promised a present for each and every child after the show, he was probably forgiven for this, temporarily at least.

At the end of the show, as Mr Fay and his assistants began throwing small treats to eagerly waiting children, those in the gallery, realising they were missing out, headed for the stairs. As the children reached the bottom of the staircase they were faced with a narrow doorway which opened towards them. The pressure from behind made it impossible to open, and those at the top of the staircase, unaware of the worsening crush below, kept pushing forward to get to the freebies. By the time assistance arrived the bodies lay 20 deep. In total 183 children - 114 boys and 69 girls - mostly between the ages of seven and ten but some as young as three died, while a further 100 were seriously injured. (One of the dead was a distant cousin of mine: she was 9 years old).

On hearing about the disaster, Queen Victoria wrote in a letter of condolence which was read out at some of the funeral services that followed, "Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God." More practically Her Majesty's government quickly introduced legislation making outward opening emergency doors mandatory at all venues used for public entertainment.

A memorial statue of a grieving mother holding her dead child was erected in Mowbray Park, Sunderland, and though vandalised, moved, and for a long time forgotten, it has recently been restored, given a protective canopy and put back in place ... but perhaps a more fitting memorial is the standard push-bar emergency door that one today sees at all public venues.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 20 Jun 2016, 11:04

June 20th, 1665 was declared a holy day in England, as noted by Pepys in his diary entry for that day, the occasion being a day of services of thanksgiving for victory over the Dutch in their most recent war. In fact this celebration was a little premature - the Dutch not only rallied, but in a war that was to then last a further three years succeeded in their infamous "Raid of Medway" in 1667, an attack which came so much out of the blue and so decimated the Royal Navy that it could be considered the Pearl Harbour of its time.

But that's not what makes this day worthy of comment. It is when Pepys, having noted his attendance at service and some subsequent business meetings, then remarks that he spots Londoners playing at "the pulling of cherries", what with it being a holy day and all.

Thence by water to Fox-hall, and there walked an hour alone, observing the several humours of the citizens that were there this holyday, pulling of cherries, and God knows what, and so home to my office

This is actually a reference to the popular pastime of "Bob-Cherry" (we can only wonder what were these other pastimes he witnessed that he summed up with the oblique "God knows what"). Bob-Cherry is akin to a Halloween pastime involving apples in which the fruit, suspended on a string, must be caught and bitten using only one's mouth and teeth. Or at least that's all we know of it today from dictionary sources, all written long after the pastime - once prevalent for young and old alike at times of revelry - had all but disappeared, even from memory.

But there are clues.

The Queen Mary Psalter, dating from the early 14th century, contains an illustration of the sport, at least according to the British Library and tradition:



However this looks suspiciously to me like an apple in the picture due to its size, and indeed a collection of bruised gums and loose teeth acquired throughout my own childhood leads me to believe that it can only in fact be an apple, a cherry attacked in this manner being somewhat less of a challenge even to the toothless.

The presence of "bob" in the title also suggests that the cherries, like another apple game associated with Halloween, actually floated in a bowl, which at least presents something of a greater challenge to participants. This notion was apparently endorsed much later by William Helmsley, who hedged his bets all the same when naming his oil painting, opting for two possible interpretations of what's going on with his kids here (A Finger In The Pie: Bob-Cherry):



Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland, who illustrated such pastimes in the end of the 18th century, apparently found a variation of the sport being pursued in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (Pepys' "Fox-Hall" from his diary). The adults this time are contained in large urns, so one can appreciate that even an eminently biteable cherry presents a  considerable test of skill to someone so extremely immobilised.



William Gill, around 1860 or thereabouts, also depicted the pastime being played by children, this time the degree of difficulty enhanced by one child manipulating the suspended cherry from a height.



What Pepys actually saw on this day while walking around London is therefore anyone's guess - or "God knows what", as the man himself might have said.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Mon 20 Jun 2016, 11:26

When I read the word "bob-cherry" I immediately thought of cherries floating in a bowl of water, particularly as that is how we always played the game with apples at Halloween, although in Sussex we called it apple-ducking rather than apple-bobbing. However I have just conducted a brief experiment with the last cherries from the tree in my garden ... and they all sank straight to the bottom, which would certainly make it more of a challenge.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Wed 22 Jun 2016, 15:45

A great result for Croatia [ not the 2-1 against Spain] but 22 June 1593, against the Ottoman Empire at Sisak.

The old castle at Sisak, played a prominent role in the Austro-Croatian victory;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 23 Jun 2016, 13:55

23 June 1314;

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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 23 Jun 2016, 14:56

Trike, I'm beginning to wonder if that ever really happened or at least where. After years of digging, thousands of test pits, days of systematic metal detecting and many hours of geophysics what have we ever got - a bit of broken stirrup and a harness decoration, neither of which can be positively identified as definitely connected to the battle. We can't even find any evidence of the camp sites where thousands of what must have been unbelievably tidy soldiers stayed before the battle and on the night between days 1 and 2.

I was back up last Sunday at the annual dig-fest, I never expect to find anything so am never disappointed, but it's a pleasant social occasion to meet old friends out in the fresh air and it's close to the Heritage Centre so there's the luxury of loos and a cafe.
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PostSubject: Re: On this day in history   Thu 23 Jun 2016, 15:16

This is from a few years ago, Ferval, but the site is still not found;

Site of Bannockburn

As long as you enjoyed yourself, that counts for something

And from 2 years ago, Neil Oliver can't find it either;
Herald: Site of Bannockburn
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